8 Hikes for Wildflower Viewing in Mammoth Lakes

Jul 13, 2021

Spring and early summer are spectacular for wildflower viewing in the Eastern Sierra. As the season gets warmer, the peak bloom rises in elevation, but there is almost always a trail to see flowers. Our favorite wildflower hikes are in and around Mammoth Lakes and offer mountain views, alpine lakes, and plenty of wildflowers.

Wildflower Hikes in Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Creek to Snowcreek Meadows

Some of the best wildflowers in the Eastern Sierra can be found right in the middle of town. The flowers in Snowcreek Meadow light up each year in spring and the walk is easy and short compared to many other hikes on this list. Start at Mammoth Creek Park and head up the paved Town Loop along Mammoth Creek.

Eventually, the path crosses the road. Then at the end of the paved path, you can pick up the nature trail that enters Snowcreek Meadow. Walk to the top of the meadow enjoying the wildflowers and views of Mammoth Mountain before returning the same way.

Emerald Lake and Sky Meadows

Sky Meadows Trail is the top destination for wildflower viewing in the Mammoth Lakes Basin and is usually in the peak during the early summer months. The alpine Sky Meadows is perched below the snowfields and granite peaks of the Mammoth Crest and is a spectacular wildflower display.

The Emerald Lake Trailhead, which begins in the Coldwater Creek Campground parking area, follows the creek for about a mile then climbs up to Emerald Lake. Continue along the trail up to Sky Meadows. The climb is steep but short and well worth the trek.

READ MORE: Hiking in the Mammoth Lakes Basin

Mammoth Mountain Trail

The Mammoth Mountain Trail climbs up the ski resort and offers a variety of scenery and a tall summit for unobstructed views from the top of California’s highest ski area. The range of elevation offers wildflowers for a few months during peak bloom.

The mountain opens to hiking access on specific trails with the mountain bike park each season. The trail departs from Main Lodge and zigzags across the north and western flanks of the mountain before topping out at the summit. Follow the small white hiking trail signs to stay on course.

The trail will cross several mountain bike trails, use caution and stay on the designated hiking route. Once you reach the summit, you can return the same way, or take the gondola back down to the bottom. If you prefer downhill hiking, try this route in reverse, starting with a gondola ride to the summit.

Mountain View Trail

The sweeping views of the Minarets and Ritter Range from the top of the Mountain View Trail are enough of a reason to take a hike on this trail, but the trail also passes through open glades and dense wildflower-lined microclimates. The trail can be hiked in a downhill direction from the Minaret Vista or in an uphill direction from the Earthquake Fault trailhead.

Cyclists frequent this route so be sure to keep your eyes open for mountain bikers on the trail.

READ MORE: Hiking on Mammoth Mountain

Wildflower Hikes in Reds Meadow

Starkweather Trail

The Starkweather Trail starts at the Minaret Vista and descends into the Reds Meadow Valley passing through meadows filled with wildflowers and old-growth Jeffrey Pines. Mountain views can be seen through the trees from a number of points along the trail, which eventually ends at Starkweather Lake.

From the Minaret Vista entrance gate, the trail parallels the road for a short while, before dropping down into the valley. Pick up the shuttle from the trail’s end at Starkweather Lake, or return the same way for a steep climb to the top.

Agnew Meadows Wildflower Loop

The Agnew Wildflower Loop is a short and gentle path that loops through a meadow filled with wildflowers. The nature walk is best experienced in early summer months when the flowers are in peak bloom but is not accessible until the Reds Meadow Road is open for the season.

The trail begins across the road from the Agnew Meadows shuttle stop. Follow the trail around in either direction.

READ MORE: Hiking in Reds Meadow

Wildflower Hikes Just Outside of Mammoth Lakes

McGee Creek Canyon

A stunning display of wildflowers brings McGee Pass Trail to life in the spring and early summer months. From the McGee Creek Trailhead, the trail travels along McGee Creek, through grassy meadows, and tunnels of aspen trees.

Steelhead Lake is a favorite day hike destination though the trail continues to Big McGee Lake and eventually reaches the Sierra Nevada Crest at McGee Pass. In 4.5 miles take the left turn to Steelhead Lake. The trail climbs steeply for another 1.2 miles, passing smaller lakes and ponds until you reach the outlet of Steelhead Lake.

Yost Lake on the June Lake Loop

Yost Lake is an often-overlooked hiking destination that can be filled with wildflowers. The meadow is a spectacular sight in peak bloom. This trail can be combined with the Yost Meadow Trail for a longer point-to-point route.

Take the Yost Creek – Fern Lake Trail straight uphill for one mile. At the trail junction, go left across Fern Creek toward Yost Lake. From here the grade lessons and the trail meanders through forest and meadow for another 1.4 miles until Yost Lake. Return the same route, or continue on the Yost Lake Trail for 4.7 miles.

READ MORE: Hiking Just Outside of Mammoth Lakes

Monica Prelle

Monica Prelle is an outdoors, wine, and travel writer who would rather be running, climbing, or mountain biking. See more of Monica's posts here, read more of her work at monicaprelle.com and connect on twitter @monicaprelle

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